A Fairwork Foundation: Towards fair work in the platform economy

The Fairwork Foundation will certify online labour platforms, using leverage from workers, consumers, and platforms to improve the welfare and job quality of digital workers.

There are now over seven million digital ‘platform workers’ that live all over the world, doing work that is outsourced via platforms or apps in the “gig economy”. Lacking the ability to collectively bargain, platform workers have little ability to negotiate wages and working conditions with their employers who are often on the other side of the world. This project undertakes innovative research that focuses on these workers, their experiences, labour processes, and the organisation of their work. The platform economy is rapidly expanding, particularly in developing and emerging economies. With this, the future of work is becoming the present and there is an urgent need to engage with its consequences. Contemporary researchers, as well as existing political and regulative frameworks, lack the appropriate methods and conceptual approaches to make sense of the phenomena.

The main objective of the project is to set up a long-term structure to form a ‘Fairwork Foundation’ that will be committed to highlighting best and worst practices in the emerging platform economy. Selected stakeholders, including governments, platform operators, unions and donors will be consulted to engage in a dialogue to establish the Foundation. Much like the Fairtrade Foundation has been able to certify the production chains of commodities like coffee and chocolate, the Fairwork Foundation will certify the production networks of the platform economy. This seeks to harness ‘consumer power’, along with leverage from workers and platforms, to significantly contribute to the welfare and job quality of digital workers.

Follow the project on Twitter @towardsfairwork


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  • Graham, M. and Woodcock, J. (2018) "Towards a fairer platform economy: introducing the Fairwork Foundation", Alternate Routes: A Journal of Social Critical Research. 29.